QI (Quite Interesting) is a British comedy panel game television quiz show created and co-produced by John Lloyd, hosted by Stephen Fry and featuring permanent panellist Alan Davies, in which the panellists must answer almost unanswerable questions on the daunting topic of virtually anything in the entire universe.
QI reveals a wealth of quirky useless facts as Stephen asks questions that are so difficult the contestants rarely ever get them right. However, points are not necessarily for the right answer – or even anything related to the question – but for an answer that Stephen deems "quite interesting".
The series premiered in the UK on BBC Four on 11 September, 2003.
QI premiered in South Africa on DStv's BBC Entertainment channel on Tuesday 15 June 2010, at 22h25, beginning with Season 6. The channel later began broadcasting the series from Season 1 in 2011. See "Seasons" below for seasonal broadcast dates and times.
Quite Interesting - or 'QI' to its friends - could loosely be described as a comedy panel quiz. However, none of the stellar line-up of comedians is expected to be able to answer any questions, and if anyone ends up with a positive score, they can be very happy with their performance.
Points are awarded for being interesting or funny (and, very occasionally, right) but points are deducted for answers which merely repeat common misconceptions and urban myth. (Alan Davies has turned this aspect of the game into somewhat of an artform.)
It's okay to be wrong, but don't be obviously, boringly wrong. In this way, QI tries to rid the world of the flotsam of nonsense and old wives' tales that can build up in your mind.
QI not only makes us look more closely at things, it encourages us to question all the received wisdom we have carried with us since childhood. Think of the program as a humorous cranial de-scaler.
QI isn't really about pointless information, or shoring up vast banks of trivia, it's about finding undiscovered connections and seeing hidden patterns, just like the best comedy. After all, curiosity is hardwired in all of us; we just lose the ability to indulge it.
Having started in 2003 with all things 'A', QI is attempting to get all the way through the alphabet, and then possibly continue through the numbers which are, naturally, slightly more numerous.
QI is hosted by Supreme Fiendish Question Master, 33rd Degree, Stephen Fry who wields autocratic power over the scores. Stephen's task is to gently encourage his guests to search for answers, avoid urban myths and reach deep into their comedic pockets to entertain us.
Permanently installed guest Alan Davies develops the intellectual counterpoint and, as Stephen puts it, "rushes headlong like a puppy into the wall of ignorance."
Far from being something to be ashamed of, Alan highlights, with his inimitable comedy style, that there are no stupid questions. Only funny ones.
The show has welcomed some of the world's finest and most gifted comedians, writers and broadcasters to QI since it started in 2003.
Unlike many TV quiz shows, guests are not given the answers beforehand. Not that this would help, mind you - getting the answer right is probably the most boring thing that could happen - what is central to the programme's flavour is the guessing, the 'teasing out' and the inevitably amusing bemusement that follows.
QI is the brainchild of long-time TV comedy guru John Lloyd, producer of Not The Nine O'Clock News, Spitting Image and Blackadder. John came to the sudden and shocking realisation that he didn't really know anything - or rather that there was a colossal landscape of fascinating knowledge 'out there' that he'd never really, genuinely trod; just occasionally used maps of it to swat mosquitoes.
Some years of wandering the intellectual landscape later, having explored some quite promising seams of really quite interesting discoveries, he just knew he had to bring it to everyone's attention, and show his friends, his colleagues and the world at large just how interesting - and amusing - everything is.
And QI is the result - a much acclaimed marriage of top-level comedy and fascinating insight into the world we occupy and all-too-often take for granted.
Each season is researched for months beforehand by a dedicated team of 'QI Elves' who are prepared to accept that they don't know anything either, but are pretty sure they can find out.
During recordings, it is their task to clear up any remaining threads of doubt or ignorance that are cast upon the proceedings, making Stephen look even more ridiculously knowledgeable, if that's possible.
QI is produced and recorded by Talkback Thames, at the London ITV studios, edited by the wizards at Evolutions, and broadcast and licensed by the BBC.
Series exclusive to BBC Entertainment. The first season to air in South Africa was Season 6, after which the channel began broadcasting the series from Season 1.
Season 1 (11 episodes)
Premiere: 27 May 2011 | 1 July 2011 | Fridays, 20h30 (double bill)
Season 2 (11 episodes)
Premiere: 4 November 2011 | Finale: 13 January 2012 | Fridays, 20h00
Season 3 (12 episodes)
Premiere: 20 January 2012 | Finale: 6 April 2012 | Fridays, 20h00
Season 4 (13 episodes)
Premiere: 13 April 2012 | Finale: 6 July 2012 | Fridays, 20h00
Season 5 (11 episodes)
Premiere: 28 August 2012 | Finale: 6 November 2012 | Tuesdays, 20h35
Season 6 (12 episodes)
Premiere: 15 June 2010 | Finale: 20 July 2010 | Tuesdays, 22h25 (double bill)
Season 7 (16 episodes)
Premiere: 8 January 2013 | Finale: 23 April 2013 | Tuesdays, 20h30
Season 8 (16 episodes)
Did not air in South Africa
Season 9 (16 episodes)
Premiere: 8 October 2013 | Finale: 22 February 2014 | Tue, 20h30 / Sat, 21h25 (db)
Season 10 (16 episodes)
Premiere: 29 March 2014 | Finale: 17 May 2014 | Saturdays, 21h25 (double bill)